CLEVELAND — Terry Francona could have waited to manage somewhere else. At some point, a more talented team in a major market with a massive payroll would make him an offer.
But if he was going back, there was only one team for him.
And when the Indians called, Francona was on his way.
‘‘I knew it was right for me,’’ he said.
Francona, who led the Red Sox to two World Series titles, was introduced Monday as the new manager of the Indians, who crashed in the second half this season after contending for four months.
Francona, who parted ways with the Red Sox after the 2011 season, acknowledged during the news conference that he made mistakes during his final season in Boston as the Sox collapsed by going 7-20 in September and missed the playoffs. The pressure took its toll on Francona, forcing him to withdraw from the game and reflect ‘‘on what mattered to me.’’
‘‘To do this job and do it correctly, you’ve got to be all in all the time,’’ Francona said. ‘‘I was showing some signs of wear and tear. But I wouldn’t have interviewed here if I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.’’
Francona signed a four-year contract with the Indians and hopes to stay even longer.
‘‘I don’t want to be a rental manager,’’ he said. ‘‘I didn’t want to come in worried. I want to stick around. I didn’t come here to go to pasture.’’
With an impressive resume that includes ending the Red Sox’ 86-year drought between world championships, Francona was picked by the Indians over Sandy Alomar Jr., who served as the club’s bench coach before taking over as interim manager for the final six games after Manny Acta was fired Sept. 27.
Francona is inheriting an Indians team that finished 68-94 and 20 games out of first place in the AL Central. Cleveland went 18-45 after July 27, an inexplicable collapse that cost Acta his job and sent Indians general manager Chris Antonetti and president Mark Shapiro searching for a strong leader to take over a club with young talent and potential.
They didn’t have to look far. The night Acta was dismissed, Antonetti called Francona, who spent the past year working as an analyst for ESPN. Before long the two friends were hammering out contract terms.
‘‘There’s two main reasons I’m here today — Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro,’’ Francona said. ‘‘We’ve kept in touch for the last 12 years. I value not only their friendship but their guidance and their leadership. I know we have challenges ahead of us but I look forward to us tackling these challenges as a unit, as a ‘we.’ ”
After being introduced by Antonetti, Francona looked toward the back of the room, where his 78-year-old father, Tito, a former major leaguer, sat proudly.
‘‘In 1959, a guy hit .363 and that was the year I was born,’’ Francona said, ‘‘and it just so happens to be the same guy that is the best father a son could ever ask. ‘‘
Francona has some simple goals for the Indians.
‘‘We’re going to compete,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re always going to compete. We may not win every game, but we won’t back down from anyone.’’
Francona has not yet hired any coaches for his staff. Alomar is under contract for one more season with Cleveland and has been offered the chance to return as the team’s bench coach. But the 46-year-old Alomar could be a candidate for other managerial openings in Boston and Colorado.